2020 has been a challenging period for everyone, yet with the year also marking Opies 140th anniversary, the fine food business is uniting with select family-owned producers to show solidarity and help showcase their artisan ranges. Having experienced numerous testing times over the past 140 years such as two World Wars, Opies are proud to remain family owned to this day and are keen to continue supporting other businesses. As Pickled Walnuts – their signature product – are typically enjoyed with cheese, it seemed fitting for Opies to work with regional, independent cheese producers.
Although shoppers spent £21.5million more on cheese in 2019 compared with 2018 and speciality cheese grew by 8.8%, artisan cheese producers, in particular, have had an especially difficult time during the global pandemic. Working with an exclusive group of British cheese producers, Opies have proudly created the Ultimate Festive Cheeseboard to provide inspiration for food lovers this Christmas.
Opies ultimate festive cheeseboard
Opies believe the perfect board should include a great selection of cheese, accompaniments and fresh fruits so that it is interesting and inviting – a real feast for the eyes (and the stomach). The cheese is the star of the show so any accompaniments need to be carefully selected to ensure they perfectly pair rather than detract from the mainstay.
An array of savoury preserves are a must-have. Of course, this includes Opies Pickled Walnuts which are typically eaten with Stilton, but work exceptionally well with all types of cheese. In fact, chef restauranteur Mark Hix recently said “Pickled Walnuts are a great accompaniment to cheese and are not used enough in my opinion”.
Sweet, tangy Opies Pickled Onions with Balsamic Vinegar and crunchy, hand-pickled Opies Cornichons & Onions pickled with mustard seeds are also featured. As well as delicious snacking partners, they offer a welcome bite, texture and are a tasty accompaniment. For even more variety, Opies suggest pimento stuffed olives and a rich, luxury chutney like a traditional Bramley apple or a real ale chutney.
Finally, it’s unfeasible to serve a cheeseboard without crackers. It was only right that Opies’ selection should include Peter’s Yard crispbread, after all it has been named “The best biscuit for cheese out there” by Great Taste Award judges. To provide contrast, three crispbreads are suggested, all taken from Peter’s Yard’s selection box: the multi-award winning Original recipe, Charcoal and Rye and Spelt and Poppy Seed.
Jeremy Bowen, a well-known figure in the fine food and artisan cheese industry, commented: “Pickled Walnuts are a real family favourite and of course they have to be Opies! This selection showcases British cheese at its best in terms of variety and quality, whilst complementing and contrasting perfectly with the accompaniments. Every cheese used brings a unique flavour and the stories behind them are fascinating. 2020 has seen a seismic change in the world and all of the cheese featured are available to buy from either a traditional high-street cheesemonger or direct from the producer online”.
Godsells Artisan Cheese is hand-produced at Church Farm in Gloucestershire and made with pasteurised milk from their own herd of cows, together with one other local farm. The cheeseboard includes Godsells Single Gloucester, Traditional Double Gloucester and Holy Smoked Single Gloucester – the only smoked Single Gloucester cheese in the world.
Hartington Creamery was originally established by the Duke of Devonshire in the 1870s and today they hand-make a range of award-winning cheeses in the beautiful Derbyshire Dales. The cheeseboard features three types of Hartington’s Peakland White – plain, chilli and cranberry and orange along with the orange-coloured Shropshire Blue and Dovedale Blue, a mild, creamy blue cheese which due to PDO rules can only be from cows which graze within 12 miles of Dovedale.
Berkswell Cheese is made at Ram Hall Farm which has been in the Fletcher family for three generations since 1881, just one year after Opies was ‘established’. The family have been hand-making Berkswell Cheese for over 30 years using milk from their own flock of Friesland ewes and is a delicious addition to the cheeseboard.
Ballylisk of Armagh make award-winning, hand-crafted Triple Rose cheese in Ballylisk in Armagh. The farm has been in the family since 1820 and today the fifth generation work the land and are the first to make cheese. Opies have included the Triple Rose Single Herd Triple Cream Cheese and also the Triple Rose Single Herb Smoked Cheese.
Peter’s Yard produce crispbreads inspired by Sweden but made by skilled UK bakers using organic fresh milk, organic flours and sourdough which is fed daily and allowed to ferment for 16 hours before each batch is baked.
Where to buy
· Opies Pickled Walnuts are available from most major supermarkets and selected independent retailers, various farm shops and delis MRSP £4.25.
· Opies Cornichons and Onions are available in Tesco together with selected independent retailers MRSP £1.80.
· Opies Pickled Onions with Balsamic Vinegar are available from selected independent retailers MSRP £1.85.
· All cheeses are available to buy online.
· Peter’s Yard selection box is available from Waitrose, Ocado and Sainsbury’s MRSP £6.95.